19 May 2011

Just in case you've forgotten ...

... it's been a long time since I've dissected an American Top 40 playlist, so here we go with the way the songs stacked up early in May 32 years ago, 1979:

40) * I (WHO HAVE NOTHING) / Sylvester
"I tawt I taw a mirror ball!" Guy's full name was Sylvester James, and had two other singles - the #36 record "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" and his biggest hit, such as it is, "Dance (Disco Heat)." All disco and all throwaway crap. Especially this, one of a number of classic pop standards desecrated with a disco beat. Ben E. King had the hit in 1963 (#29) and Tom Jones went to #14 with it in ‘70. #40 was as high as Thylvethter made it with his cover. Taken from his album Sufferin' Silk Shirts.

39) * OLD TIME ROCK & ROLL / Bob Seger
I could go into a rant about this one, but would much prefer I no—ohhh, never mind. I shall. One reason I no longer wish to DJ dances, something I enjoyed doing back in the late ‘80s and a good part of the ‘90s, is the absolute dumbing down of party attendees. You think terrestrial commercial radio is down to the same 20 moth-eaten, over-researched songs? Try the world of dances, where that 20 is whittled down to maybe half a dozen records, at most ... of which this is one. I've joked that I no longer need to bring a big collection of music; just burn two CDs with those six songs (including "Respect", "At the Hop", and "Rock Around the Clock"), and segue between them.

38) GET USED TO IT / Roger Voudouris
One-song wonder that missed the top 20 (peaked at #21). A good song that got substantial airplay in Cape Girardeau, where I was living at the time of this survey.

37) DON'T YOU WRITE HER OFF / McGuinn, Clark and Hillman
Byrds of a feather make good records together. Roger, Gene and Chris pooled their talents into one song that reached #33. Another forgotten gem, serving as an ongoing reminder that not all of top-40 radio in 1979 resembled Hiroshima circa 1945. Just .... a lot of it.

36) SWEET LUI-LOUISE / Ironhorse
a/k/a Bachman-Turner Overtime. Randy Bachman's third group. Song is pretty good, for sounding like warmed-over BTO. You could even say that I like it. And I will, because I do.

35) * DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT / Olivia Newton-John
Malaria Neutron-Bomb goes disco with this week's highest-debut'er. Why are you so surprised – what part of 1979 don't you understand??!!

34) ROLLER / April Wine
I've always liked much of their stuff, in particular 1981's "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" and their first hit, "You Could Have Been a Lady" from 1972. Frankly, I'm a bit ‘meh' on "Roller." Not too bad, compared with some of the crap on the radio (see #40), but I've heard much better.

33) SUCH A WOMAN / Tycoon
The opening did not ring a bell, but once it got to the hook it took me back. One of those songs that recalls riding my 10-speed all over north Cape, with modified can holder duct-taped to the frame, holding a radio usually blasting KJAS. And remember:"KJAS plays the MOST MUSIC!"

32) ROXANNE / Police
First hit single for a band you've never heard of. One member goes by the name "Sting" ... huh? Never mind, moving right along ......

31) HOT NUMBER / Foxy
I got your number – #21 – now hurry up and "Get Off" the chart, already!!

30) HAPPINESS / The Pointer Sisters
Follow-up to their million-seller "Fire" ... #30 was as high as it got, barely enough to qualify as an ‘afterburner.'

29) CRAZY LOVE / The Allman Brothers
The Allmans regrouped to bring us the first of several memorable singles. Not to be confuzzed with Poco's big one from earlier that year. Same title, different song.

28) SULTANS OF SWING / Dire Straits
Debut single, and their biggest hit until 1985, when they realized that both chicks and currency are complimentary. From one of my favorite bands, it's one of my favorites, even though it flirts with B2AC-dom.

27) TRAGEDY / The Bee Gees
The title says it all.

26) JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST / Randy Vanwarmer
One of 1979's biggest Whiny Wecords®. "If you can't live without me, why aren't you dead?"

25) ROCK ‘N' ROLL FANTASY / Bad Company
So you had the Allmans and Poco both doing "Crazy Love" ... Bad Company can go one better: 1975's "Feel Like Makin' Love" (different song a year earlier by Roberta Flack) and .. "Fantasy", a minor hit the previous year by The Kinks.

24) THE LOGICAL SONG / Supertramp
First single release from Breakfast In America, my favorite album cover, bar none.

23) RENEGADE / Styx
Okay, that's three rock & roll acts in a row. I thought this was 1979. Where's the disco?

Uh-uh-uh-uh, don't touch that dance floor.............

Now, that's more like it?

21) I GOT MY MIND MADE UP / Instant Funk
Best-remembered for the line, "Sayyyy WHAT??!!" Couldn't have asked it better.

20) HOT STUFF / Donna Summer
Disco Diva Donna, what more need be said? Okay, this: I like the song. Look people, I never said I hated all disco ... just the kind that's poorly done. This is nicely-made, produced under the talented hand of Giorgio Moroder.

19) PRECIOUS LOVE / Bob Welch
Former Fleetwood Mac vocalist (early ‘70s period) had a string of solo records – most of you I'm sure recall "Sentimental Lady" - originally done by Mac - and "Hot Love, Cold World" .... plus he got a big hit out of this ‘un.

18) LOVE BALLAD / George Benson
Generic title. Underrated song. Couldn't stand it 32 years ago, but I rather enjoy it now.

17) LOVE YOU INSIDE OUT / The Bee Gees
My ears wanna turn inside out when I hear it. This, dearfolk, is a big reason disco is a punchline, and not highly respected as a genre.

16) BLOW AWAY / George Harrison
Sweet. A song that can bring back the darkness of my life in 1979, and at the same time just how good it sounded when something like this pierced the wasteland.

15) LOVE TAKES TIME / Orleans
Meh, meh, a thousand times meh.

14) LOVE IS THE ANSWER / England Dan & John Ford Coley
But what is the question??

13) I WILL SURVIVE / Gloria Gaynor
I much prefer the cover version by Cake. That one single F-bomb makes it. Seriously. From a ‘stupid' lock to ....

12) SHAKE YOUR BODY / The Jacksons
Michael was A) male, B) of the African-American persuasion, and C) possessed all his natural body parts. Jacko would make an unforgettable impression later in 1979's Summer with Off the Wall, but here with his siblings he's already minting gold.

11) WHAT A FOOL BELIEVES / The Doobie Brothers
It's a long way from the laid-back rock of Tom Johnston's Doobies ... here, it's the Michael McDonald flavoured soulful pop. Have to say I prefer the former.

10) HE'S THE GREATEST DANCER / Sister Sledge
Another passable disco song. Much better than what was to follow - and had debuted on the Hot 100 the previous week: the B2AC "We Are Family."

9) TAKE ME HOME / Cher
Sickening. Caricature of an artist on the edge of relevancy trying to stay ‘current' by recording a disco song. And people bought this record. After all, it was 1979.

Like a nice shot of Diet Mountain Dew (or the soda of your choice) to wash down that bitter medicine you had to take. Macca and company were still crankin'em out.

Perhaps my favorite disco act, all around. "Le Freak" aside (too B2AC for me), all their stuff is good. I even have the two-CD best of collection, if that tells you anything.

6) IN THE NAVY / The Village People
Pure, unadulterated, non-filtered, 200-proof shit. I get seasick from having to listen.

5) STUMBLIN' IN / Suzy Quatro and Chris Norman
One that doesn't get played all that often anymore. I never liked it, though. A lame pop hit. Like it for me, please.

4) KNOCK ON WOOD / Amii Stewart
One more classic song folded, spindled and mutilated to fit into platform shoes. Whatever did Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper do to deserve this treatment? A fine Memphis soul standard gets royally ruint.

3) MUSIC BOX DANCER / Frank Mills
Lessee ... y'got yer disco (lots of it) ...y'got yer rock ‘n' roll .... y'got yer R&B ballads ... and you even got yer muzak. Please take that box outside and smash it on the driveway.

2) HEART OF GLASS / Blondie
What can you say, except that in many ways it was a breath of fresh air. That is, until a couple months later when we'd be introduced to a girl named Sharona.

Aaaaaaaand number one on the chart ...

1) REUNITED / Peaches & Herb
Burnt to beef jerky. A major fire risk due to belly-rubbing on the dance floor – silk garments and enormous amounts of exposed chest hair are not a good mix.

So there you have it. I've missed this, I have to say. Okay, bring on the feedback.....

--Talmadge Coast-To-Coast


Georgia Road Geek said...

I used to be a very dedicated AT40 listener back in the late 70s.

Great post, dude! :)

nettiemac said...

I definitely plan to feedback, so don't touch that dial just yet!

nazbear said...

Just stumbled onto the blog, spent some time reading back over your AT40 posts. Good stuff, and I wish I had this one---I'm missing lots of 1979 in my AT40 collection. Can't say I've ever heard disco "I (Who Have Nothing)", though...